In the film room...Dillan Gibbons
• Assets: A relentlessly physical presence on the football field who tries to establish his superiority on every snap of the football. A compact, measured blocker who stays within the parameters of his skill set and doles out punishment at every opportunity. Really leans on a defender and gets all his weight/strength behind his blocking efforts, yet still manages to maintain balance on the run.
Outstanding run-blocking pad level. When he fires off the football, he is a destructive football player. Never, repeat, never satisfied with simply sealing off his man. Wants to bury and grind the opposition into the ground on every snap. Eagerly and actively seeks out a body with which to collide and grind into the ground.
Surprisingly good feet and setup as a pass-blocker for a guy who generally aligns and plays so compact and squat. Good balance and use of his hands as a pass-blocker. Shows active feet kicking out wide to defend against the edge pass rush.
• Room for improvement: Aligns overly compact in his stance for a tackle. Can be a bit lumbering at times.
Straddles and goes beyond the line between aggressive and abusive/unsportsmanlike play. Consistently lays on blockers well after the play is by him or completed. Taunts the opposition with his body language. Takes shots at defenseless players after the whistle, often times against inferior competition.
• Scholarship offers: Notre Dame. ACC: Louisville; Big Ten: Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State; Big 12: West Virginia; SEC: Kentucky, Mississippi State, South Carolina; Other: Central Florida
• Why Notre Dame: After stops at Ohio State and Purdue as part of a Midwest swing, Gibbons visited Notre Dame this past week. The Gibbons family already was familiar with Notre Dame. The Irish recruited older brother Reilly, who signed with Stanford and eventually transferred to South Florida.
The level of interest in this physical offensive lineman was just beginning to escalate when he pulled the plug on the recruiting process and chose the Irish.
“I’m an Irish-Catholic, so I grew up loving Notre Dame, too,” said Gibbons to Irish Illustrated editor Pete Sampson. “It was an easy decision. It’s amazing.
“Brian Kelly is absolutely amazing,” Gibbons continued. “He is a man of high character and I can’t wait to learn from him. I can’t wait to get to know Coach (Harry) Hiestand better, too.”
As is often the case with offensive linemen, Gibbons sounds as if his mind is made up and there is no turning back from the decision to attend Notre Dame.
“Coach Kelly was really excited to hear from me and learn that I was committing, and I really enjoyed explaining to him why I wanted to come to Notre Dame,” Gibbons said. “I’m done. Definitely no more visits or recruiting.”
Gibbons told Sampson that he plans to attend the Notre Dame-Texas opener on Sept. 5.
• ND’s 2017 recruiting: Gibbons is the first verbal commitment of the Class of 2017. The Irish currently have four players verbally committed to sign the first Wednesday of February, 2016 – RB-Tony Jones (Bradenton, Fla.), OT-Tommy Kraemer (Cincinnati, Ohio), CB-Julian Love (La Grange Park, Ill.), and LS-John Shannon (Wilmette, Ill.).
• ND’s 2017 offensive line depth chart: Definitely gone by the 2017 season will be Ronnie Stanley, Nick Martin, Steve Elmer (barring injury) and Mark Harrell. Fifth-year senior possibilities would include Mike McGlinchey, John Montelus, Hunter Bivin and Colin McGovern. Presumably in their college prime would be Quenton Nelson, Alex Bars, Jimmy Byrne, Tristen Hoge and Trevor Ruhland with Tommy Kraemer right behind.
• Summary: This is a young man with great upside and an extreme level of physicality that fits well with a program that is trying to establish a greater degree of smash-mouth characteristics. This kid absolutely loves contact. He thrives on it and seeks it out at every turn. This is the kind of offensive lineman around which a physical rushing attack is built.
And yet it’s one thing to say you’re Irish Catholic, love everything about Notre Dame and want to be a part of Notre Dame, and quite another to understand the responsibilities and the decorum that comes with wearing the Notre Dame uniform.
Gibbons has two more high school football seasons to learn the differences between hard-nosed, physical play and playing the role of a bully who goes beyond the parameters of sportsmanlike play. Gibbons doesn’t just want to win the block; he wants to embarrass the opponent at every opportunity – physically and emotionally --and that’s taking aggressive and physical play into a realm that doesn’t play well at Notre Dame.
On the next level, they’ll call penalties for Gibbons’ disrespectful treatment of the opposition.
For as tightly-wound as Gibbons plays, he’s a pretty good pass blocker, probably better suited for the right side as opposed to the left, but pretty adept nonetheless. Personally, I think his best position is guard in terms of how he aligns, how he comes out of his stance, style of play and overall skill set. But he will arrive at Notre Dame as a tackle and adapt from there.
There’s no doubt that Gibbons arrives to the field in a nasty frame of mind and relishes doling out the punishment. If can corral his emotions, he’ll be an effective college player and a real bulldozer on the next level.